A CanWaCH Wish for Pride: Gender-Inclusive Data

As Pride Month kicks off, CanWaCH is reflecting on how to better support LGBTQ2 people around the world.


While we’ve made some progress, there are several key challenges that stand in the way of a gender equal and inclusive world: 

Keeping People Safe While Telling Their Stories 

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Good quality data starts at the source, by asking the right questions of the right people in the right ways. To do this, global health organizations typically work closely with local staff or governments to identify needs and the communities we need to reach. 

What happens, however, if data on LGBTQ2 communities isn’t collected at all? This can happen when researchers and health workers are unable to ask questions about gender or sexuality safely or with respectful language. In some cases, simply asking (and answering) questions about gender or sexuality puts everyone at risk of violence or harm. We need to be responsible in how we share and use data, especially in contexts where LGBTQ2 communities are criminalized.

Capacity Gaps and Discrimination in the Global Health Sector 

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We need to involve LGBTQ2 people in designing, delivering, and evaluating the programs and policies that affect them. However, violence and discrimination against these communities is widespread, and official statistics can hide facts or bias what little data is available. This can result in LGBTQ2 people being isolated, and receiving no (or low quality) care and protection. 

Gender Inclusive Data: A Low Priority 

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Given the challenges of collecting gender inclusive data, it is hardly surprising that many states and global health actors are “taking decisions in the dark”.

A rights-based approach would develop better quality indicators that look at the unique experiences of LGBTQ2 communities. We also need information at health systems levels that allows for sex, age, and gender disaggregated data collection.

So, what can we do to make this a reality? 

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Canadian commitment to LGBTQ2 equality is inspiring and necessary. We need to continue to reflect this commitment in our data collection and programming.

At CanWaCH, we know that better data is not just about collecting numbers: it’s about promoting human rights. CanWaCH is committed to bringing Canadian and global partners together to generate solutions to urgent data challenges. We are also sharing inspiring examples of how Canada is supporting gender transformative change around the world.

If we can continue to work together as a sector to build on these commitments, we can truly create a world where people of all genders and identities thrive.


June 27, 2019


Jessica Ferne, CanWaCH’s Director of Global Health Impact